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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says knee-jerk reactions to the novel coronavirus will not keep people safe, as he defended Canada's decision not to close its borders to foreign nationals coming from regions where the outbreak is spreading.

Misinformation being spread about the virus, which can cause a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, is having negative impacts on some communities' ability to keep their populations safe, Trudeau warned Thursday while speaking to reporters in Toronto.

"We're going to stay focused on doing the things that actually matter: on empowering Canadians to make the right decisions for their own health, for their families' health, listening to experts, working to co-ordinate with health authorities across the country, including in all provinces and territories and ensuring that our response is active and up to date every step of the way."

Australia has banned travellers from South Korea who aren't Australian citizens or permanent residents, following similar bans for China and Iran.

Trudeau says other countries have a right to make different decisions in dealing with this outbreak, but Canada is taking its lead from the World Health Organization and other health experts here and abroad.

"We know that keeping Canadians safe needs to be done in the right way and we're going to keep doing the things that actually keep Canadians safe," he said. "There is a lot of misinformation out there, there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction that isn't keeping people safe, that is having real challenging impacts on communities and on community safety."

However, the federal government is stepping up its travel advice — now warning against all travel to Iran due to COVID-19 concerns.

Global Affairs Canada posted a new alert this morning, upgrading an advisory against non-essential travel to say that nobody should go.

The warning says that travel restrictions imposed to control the spread of the new coronavirus are making it increasingly difficult to leave Iran.

And because Iran doesn't recognize dual citizenship, Iranian-Canadians who might go for a visit likely wouldn't be able to get any help from Canadian officials to leave.

The Canadian government has warned against non-essential travel to China and all travel to the province where the new virus first broke out.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says knee-jerk reactions to the novel coronavirus will not keep people safe, as he defended Canada's decision not to close its borders to foreign nationals coming from regions where the outbreak is spreading.

It also says to be extremely cautious about travel to Japan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2020.